Assembly Marks 100 Years of Remembrance
Monday, 11 November 2019
One hundred years since the first Remembrance Sunday and the laying of wreaths in Whitehall, pupils, staff and governors gathered in the Great Hall of Bolton School Boys’ Division to mark this “the most solemn of days in the nation’s calendar”.
The assembly was led by Dr Holland who paid tribute to those soldiers who fought in conflicts from World War I to the present day. Last year pupils had recalled ten former pupils who made the supreme sacrifice in the months and weeks before the Armistice, this year Dr Holland paid tribute to Captain Robert Cecil Hearn MC and Lance Corporal John Entwistle, both of whom taught in the Boys’ Division and lost their lives in the First World War. Three boys then told the stories of three Old Boys who died after the 1918 Armistice had been signed: Cadet Sergeant Stanley Bolton, Captain Cyril Gerrard Hasleden and Deck Hand Jack Russell Brown.
Dr Holland considered the signing of the Armistice in the countryside near Compiegne and how it was largely written by Marshall Ferdinand Foch of France and how, although it brought to an end the fighting on the Western Front, it had to be prolonged three times before the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919. He read moving poems reflecting on the senselessness of war by A E Housman and Cecil Day Lewis.
Today, Dr Holland told the whole school gathering, is Poland’s Independence Day and he recounted how the Nazis systematically destroyed the Polish nation, decimating its culture, economy, literature, educational system and currency and slaughtering 3.3m Jews, whilst it hoped to settle 12 and a half million Germans into the region. During World War One, the Poles lost 22% of their population, more than any other nation.
There was also mention of the many well-made war films which recount battles from the 1939-45 conflict and Dr Holland focused on The Battle of the River Plate, which, taking place in the South Atlantic in April 1940 was the first naval battle of Second World War and told the story of firepower, willpower, strategy and diplomacy.
Dr Holland told how 57 former pupils lost their lives in the Second World War and also of those that have suffered in subsequent wars including Korea, Malaya, Northern Ireland, The Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan.
An impeccably observed two-minute silence preceded a solemn procession through the Great Hall and the laying of poppy wreaths by Sixth Form students by the memorial window as the words of “Lest We Forget” were spoken.
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